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24 February 2017

Causative Agent

Rabies is an acute infection of the central nervous system caused by the rabies virus. It affects mammals like dogs, cats, foxes, bats and humans.

Mode of Transmission

When humans are bitten, scratched or licked over their broken skin by an infected animal, the virus in the saliva of the infected animal enters the human body through the wound and travels through nerves to the brain, leading to encephalitis. Rarely, rabies may also be transmitted by inhalation of virus-containing aerosol or via transplantation of an infected organ.

Incubation Period

The incubation period is usually 1 - 3 months, but may vary from less than 1 week to over 1 year.

Clinical features

The initial symptoms of rabies may be nonspecific flu-like symptoms such as malaise, fever, or headache, which may last for days. There may be numbness and tingling around the site of the wound. These are followed after a few days by anxiety, confusion, spasm of swallowing muscles, paralysis, coma and death.


Once symptoms of rabies appear, the disease is nearly always fatal, and treatment is supportive.


  1. Dog owners should make sure their dogs are licensed and vaccinated against rabies.

  2. Avoid stray animals, including dogs, cats, monkeys.

  3. Immunisation (both pre-exposure and post-exposure), combined with thorough wound cleaning, is the most reliable method of preventing rabies. After being bitten by animal, wash wound thoroughly with plain water and soap immediately. Then seek medical attention at the nearest Accident and Emergency Department. If necessary, post-exposure immunisation may be given by the attending doctor.

  4. Pre-exposure immunisation is recommended for prolonged trip to endemic areas, particularly for visits to remote rural regions without medical facilities, or people who will travel even for a short period in rabies affected areas if their activities may involve some special risks (hiking, cycling, trekking and animal handling). Please visit the website of Travel health Service of the Department of Health for more details.